Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reviving Genealogical Societies

Ten years ago attendance at genealogical society meetings was high as that was the place to  go to get our fix on all things dealing with genealogy.  That is no longer true.  Today Internet with its chat rooms, message boards, blogs and websites and subscription services all compete for our attention, leaving little time to spend at a meeting where our genealogy needs are not being met.

So, how do we entice people to attend  and become active members of local societies?  It can be summed up in one word - Change. Change by bringing in new people with new ideas to serve as officers instead of recycling the same ones year after year.  Change by offering  workshops on a variety of subjects that will appeal to genealogists working on all skill levels.  Change by recognizing and embracing  new trends in technology, possibly offering an online version of the newsletter or quarterly. Change by utilizing an online payment service as a quick and easy way to pay  membership dues. But most of all, be willing to change if what you have been doing isn't working.   

Does your society have a website and blog? Progressive societies utilize both as a way to promote the society and its activities. But don't stop there. Why not get your membership involved by gathering and posting genealogical material online? If you have a good online presence and offer something of value to researchers, your society will become stronger.

If you get the feeling I'm shaking my finger at you - you are probably right. If you care about your society, stop whining about decreased attendance at meetings and make some changes.   It's better than watching your society wither and die.

Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog


geneabloggers said...


An excellent post. This is my perspective: just as in our own lives, we need to challenge ourselves to go outside our "safe zone" and learn new things every day. What fun in there in doing the same thing over and over? Genealogical societies are the same way - it doesn't mean we have to embrace everything new, but we can be selective and incorporate what works for us as a society.

Brenda Joyce Jerome said...

You are absolutely correct, Thomas. It is easy to blame internet for the demise of societies, but in many cases it was actually neglect by the society itself.

Lisa Swanson Ellam said...

I feel so strongly about this topic that I am choosing your blog as my Follow Friday post. You will see my strong feelings coming through. Thank you so much for bringing this issue to everyone's attention.

Brenda Joyce Jerome said...

Thank you, Lisa.

• Elizabeth• said...

Wonderful points, all. I particularly vote for embracing online payment systems if at all possible. I bet a lot of memberships are lost when a viewer scrolls through an otherwise excellent site page and finds a P.O. Box instead of a PayPal button. It's just life.

Jasia said...

Amen! I couldn't have said it better myself. You've written a great article and I applaud you for having the guts to say publicly what many people are thinking privately. "Change" is the word of the day!